JOINT PRESS RELEASE
HON MALCOLM TURNBULL MP, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION,
HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION,
APPRENTICESHIPS AND TRAINING,
SENATOR MITCH FIFIELD, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR DISABILITIES, CARERS AND THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR
TAKING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES OUT OF THE TOO HARD BASKET
Today, the Opposition held a major stakeholder forum in Melbourne to discuss the significant challenges faced by students with disabilities and their families.
This issue has been languishing in the too hard basket for too long and the Coalition wants to work with parents, educators and the providers to find a solution to ensure every child has the opportunity to reach their potential.
The Opposition heard that governments at all levels have failed to provide adequately for the hundreds of thousands of young people living with a disability across Australia.
Parents of students with disabilities shared their very personal stories of a system that has failed them and their children. We also heard from principals, teachers and representatives of the education and disability
sectors about the need for national leadership and reform in this area.
Overwhelmingly, participants agreed that the education system is failing to meet the diverse needs of students with disabilities. Every sector at the forum indicated their strong support for action.
Parents talked about some of the considerable challenges that they face every day. We heard difficult stories of how these families have been discriminated against and denied real choice when it comes to the education
of their children.
Some of the key deficiencies that were identified included but are not limited to:
– Equity and portability of funding the difference between funding in a government school and non-government school is unfair and unsustainable. Fundamentally, the funding should follow the child.
– More training for teachers and teacher’s aides must be undertaken so that these educators can better support these children.
– Parents are exhausted and need more support across the board with less red tape. There are substantial problems with different definitions of disabilities and too many children are fallingthrough the gaps.
The views expressed today will provide critical input to our policy development in this important area.
The Coalition will continue to consult stakeholder groups across Australia with a clear focus on parent driven solutions.
We encourage anyone who would like to share their experiences or offer policy solutions to go to www.educationforaustralia.com.
The investment we fail to make today in these young Australians will cost the nation more in the long run.